We encourage you to take an active role in your health decisions. The following topics describe some of the important skills and habits you can develop for dealing with health problems:

  • Making Wise Health Choices
  • Self-Care Checklist
  • Know Your Options
  • Decisions about Medicines and Natural Remedies

How Do You Make the Right Health Choices?

It’s not always clear what choices are the right ones for you. There are often several approaches to diagnosing and treating a health problem. And you are more likely to feel better about the chosen approach if it is the one best suited to your needs. The best health decisions combine the most reliable medical facts with your personal values. These include your beliefs, fears, lifestyle, and experiences, and they all play a role in helping you make decisions about your health.

Know Your Options

Always ask why

Too much care can be just as bad as—or worse than—too little. Most medicines can have side effects. Medical tests can give false results that lead to the wrong care. Surgery almost always has risks. And anytime you get care, there is a chance of error.

When your doctor suggests or orders a medicine, surgery, a test, or any other kind of care, ask why you need it and what would happen if you waited. If you don’t need it now, you might want to wait.

But also remember that there can be costs to doing nothing. The “wait and see” option is not always the best. If you don’t get care when you need it and a health problem gets worse, you may face higher costs than you would have if you had taken care of the problem sooner.

Know the pros and cons

Every treatment choice has pros and cons. It’s up to you to know what they are. Your doctor can be a big help here, as can this Web site.

Remember, the goal is to get the care you need, no more and no less, and to get it at the lowest cost you can.

Think about your needs and wants

People value things differently. When you have a health care decision to make, you have to balance issues like:

  • The desire for better health versus the risks of treatment.
  • The certainty of doing something versus the uncertainty of waiting (the known versus the unknown).
  • Convenience versus cost.

For many decisions, these issues are just as important as the medical facts. They are part of what makes a decision right for you. They affect whether you get the care you want at a cost that seems reasonable to you.

Decisions about Medicines and Natural Remedies

The first rule of medicines is to know why you need it before you use it.

Learn the facts
·         Why do you need it?
·         How long does it take to work?
·         How long will you need to take it?
·         How and when do you take it (for example, with food or on an empty stomach)?
·         Are there nondrug options?

Consider the risks and benefits

  • How much will it help?
    ·         Are there side effects or other risks?
    ·         Could this solution interact with other medicines or herbal supplements that you currently take?